Updated Thu, Dec 16, 2010 by gunky
It's that time of year again, and the Yule Festival has come to the Lord of the Rings Online in full force. Every year, Turbine adds new, fun mini-games to the seasonal festival, which runs this year from December 14 to early January. The big addition this year is rather bigger than the bar-fights of the 2009 Yule Festival - in fact, it's a whole new region, called Winter-home.
The old "go gather me some crap" standard quests are still a go for earning festival tokens.
Yule Festival Glittering Pony. The picture doesn't clearly illustrate it, but the thing is COVERED in glittery body gel.
The regular stuff from previous Yule Festivals is all in play. As with other years, the goal of the festival (besides being a fun diversion from endless questing and deeding) is to accumulate festival barter tokens, redeemable at specific traders for cosmetic items, housing trophies and gag items. The tokens are gained by competing or otherwise taking part in mini-games and events. Like previous years, the standard events take place at Thorin's Hall in the tavern, Duillond and Celondim, the Party Tree north of Hobbiton, and the Bree-land festival grounds north of Bree. These are the fastest ways to earn the festival tokens for the cosmetic and yard decoration rewards.
The first event new players may want to check out is the horse races in Bree-land and the Shire. The race tracks are west of Michel Delving in the Shire and surrounding the Bree-land Festival Grounds between Bree and Hengstacer Farm. The "race" is more of an obstacle course - players mount a temporary steed and charge around an obstacle-filled track, jumping over barricades, dodging through twisting paths and navigating the treacherously-gapped plank bridges over sticky, slowing mud. Beat the timer and you win either 3 festival tokens or a race token. The race token (plus 12 tokens and a Document of Mount Ownership, which costs a bit of coin) can be used to purchase a festival steed at Hengstacer Farm in northern Bree. These mounts have the same stats and speed as regular mounts, but have fancy saddle blankets and barding. This year's new horse is the Yule Festival Glittering Steed, a mottled pale horse with a light blue blanket.
As with previous years, there are plenty of "standard" ways to earn festival tokens. Each starting area has a set of token reward quests that can be completed by gathering Yule-time supplies. In the Shire, this takes place at the Party Tree north of Hobbiton. The NPCs there want you to collect some apples for apple cider and some stray boxes, red berries and blue flowers for gift-giving. In Thorin's Hall, a pair of NPCs in the tavern in the lower tunnels are looking for berries and ice shavings and snow-piles. There are also similar quests in Duillond and Bree-land at the festival grounds.
In the Shire, there is a particularly spiritually-fulfilling quest to oust crusty old Lobelia Sackville-Baggins as the Hobbiton party planner. Everyone hates her there, and her parties tend to suck, so it's up to you to save the day. Start by getting a general consensus - talk to the hobbits in and around Hobbiton and listen to them talk smack about Lobelia. Ted Sandyman is conspicuously pro-Lobelia and clearly has something to hide - you'll find an invitation to the party behind his mill. Grab that and take it to Michel delving to Mayor Wil Whitfoot, who will ask you to find a rulebook, wherein he hopes to find a legislative loophole to remove Lobelia from her post. All it needs is a petition with 10 signatures. Head back to Hobbiton, run around and talk to all the hobbits with quest rings and most of them are more than happy to sign the petition (Ted Sandyman being the sole holdout). When you take it up to Lobelia to rub her stupid face in it, you will only have 9 signatures, but at the last moment, a little hobbit girl will run up, sign the paper and scamper off to play. The coup d'etat is, unfortunately, bloodless, but you get a Yule-tree for your yard to commemorate your overthrowing of a heartless, cruel tyrant.
Last year's barroom brawling in Thorin's Hall was excluded from this year's events to focus more attention on Winter-home.
These aren't your ordinary, wimpy little steel kegs. Keg runners in Winter-home have to cater to dwarven appetites for ale.
Winter-home also has to cater to dwarven appetites for food. Meanwhile, the poor go hungry and get run out of town.
These solemn statues commemorate all the soggy, frozen victims of Junior Barnes.
Winter-home is an all-new region built specifically for the Yule Festival. On the overland map, it is located to the west of Forochel, north of Ered Luin, but it is not directly connected to either of these areas. It is a bowl of snow surrounded on all sides by rugged mountains, and the only way to get there is by hitching a ride from the stable-masters located in Bree, Thorin's Gate, Celondim and Michel Delving. The region itself is called Frostbluff, and Winter-home is the name of the town in the southwest corner of the map.
The first thing you will need to do when you get there is the introduction quest. Talk to the guard by the gate and he will instruct you to meet the mayor, Winston Goodnough. The mayor will send you off all over Frostbluff to meet the people in charge of the festival, and it will soon become evident that Winter-home has a rather severe problem with the homeless. While wealthier patrons (and players) gorge themselves on rich food, the poor are forced to beg for scraps in the freezing cold, and the mayor cares nothing for their troubles.
Once the introduction is complete, you can take part in the quests and games. The mini-games in Frostbluff reward Frostbluff Coins rather than Festival tokens, and the exchange rate to convert the coins into tokens is 4:1. Coins can be exchanged at the Town Crier near the entrance to Winter-home.
Basil Wyndham and Mabel Mitford, by the stairs in the party area, have a couple of quests each. Start local: run around cleaning up trash, spilled drinks and hobbit puke from the feast tables.
Basil needs someone to run a fresh keg down to the party area, but there is some kind of legal issue, so the player needs to avoid the attention of the Watchers. This is similar to the mail and pie runs in the Shire, but it can be timed fairly easily. Watch the radar for roving eyes and get the keg down the stairs and around the corner before the timer runs out.
The next quests will take you far and wide. Head north and east to gather eggs, berries and mushrooms, and gather some "unwilling firewood" by killing the level 10 wood trolls while you're in the area. Return to town, head up to the area with the kegs and whip up 3 loaves of bread (don't need the Cook crafting skill; just click on the oven 3 times). This will net you 8 Frostbluff coins.
Up on the higher level, closer to the entrance, Ona Kay is the announcer for the eating contest. This is fairly easy when there are very few players taking part, but when the town is standing-room only it can get a little competetive. The goal is to eat a specified number of meals at each station before the timer runs out. If you have a lot of people doing the quest, the pickin's are slim and you may not be able to beat the timer. Luckily, there is a workaround for that.
The first thing to do is memorize the location of the 5 different stations, which are arranged in an S-shape. Know where to run and you're halfway there. The real trick of winning this competition is making good use of the fact that the first round has unlimited time. You can start the quest, wait around for the other players to fail out or finish, and then start at your leisure. You can actually eat all 5 foods at the first station, go screw around for a bit and come back when the slow buffs wear off to finish the first round and continue with the rest of the contest.
You will want to pick the light, fast foods at each station, and only use the slow, heavy foods when there are no fast, light ones available. In order of quickness, from fastest to slowest, the foods are: Berries; Mushrooms; Mystery Drink; Eggs; Pie; and Bread. The heavier foods seem to cause a larger debuff to run speed, so try to avoid Bread if at all possible. If you have lots of time left on the clock, it may be worth your while to wait for the quick foods to respawn rather than forging ahead with the heavy foods. The Mystery Drink will remove the run speed debuff for a short time when you drink it; try to save that for last when you need to run to the next station. But be warned: it can also apply a random slow debuff when you drink it. That's what makes this drink a mystery.
The snowball fight takes place in the snowman-filled field north of Winter-home. Snowball fights are timed events, lasting around 3 minutes, and happen every 10 minutes. You can choose to do Easy or Hard; Easy mode requires tagging 10 targets with snowballs and can take place over multiple rounds. Hard mode requires hitting 15 victims in one round, and the player cannot leave the battlefield. Either way, this is fairly easy when there are a few players taking part. To start, find a snow pile and loot the snowballs from it. It will help to put these in a free quickslot. Gather as many snowballs as you need for the round, start targeting other players and huck the snowball. This can be done quick and easy with a tag-team. Each of you gather up 15 snowballs, stand next to one another and just huck snowballs until you complete the goal. However, this is way less fun than treating it like a proper snowball fight. Occasionally, a solid hit will turn a character blue, temporarily root or stun them or knock them back.
The "moral grey area" politics of the area provide a few more entertaining mini-quests. Gareth Rust, in the southwest corner of town, has an idea how to make a few quick bucks: robbing rich patrons. He asks you to create a distraction by setting off some strategically-placed fireworks, and while the party patrons are cheering the show, you sneak around and rifle through their pockets.
Guard Kember, standing by the entrance to town, needs a hand rousting the beggars, who are spoiling the mood for the wealthier partygoers. Go around town and convince the beggars to get out of town and you earn yourself a couple of Frostbluff Coins.
If this seems a bit harsh, you can ignore the crusty, heartless jerk and help out Daley Utteridge instead. He is standing in the southwest corner of town, and would ask of you to show charity to the starving, freezing beggars. Doing this quest will cost you 10 Frostbluff Coins and earn no material reward, but will foster a sense of charity and goodwill that separates the heroes from the villains. Or something. Anyhow, if you want the festival rewards, don't do this one.
Humans tend to make the best, most believable Gandalfs. Hobbits, the very worst.
The reward for behaving like a rude S.O.B.
The Frostbluff Theatre, hosted by director Bill Shakesburrow of G.L.O.B.E., is the most complex of the new events, and offers rewards beyond barter tokens. The theatre runs a new show every few minutes and requires at least 3 active audience members. At the start of each play, 3 members of the audience are randomly selected as "actors" and are taken backstage where they are given directions. When the play starts, the actor must target the invisible NPC called "the Audience." The actor's job is to /emote at the Audience according to the cues given to them by the NPC actors. If the actor misses his cue or performs the wrong emote, the audience boos and the players watching the show can throw rotten fruit. If the actor hits his mark, he gets cheered and the players throw flower petals.
Attending a performance as an audience member, players can earn titles, gag items and Turbine Points for throwing the appropriate items at the appropriate times. Flower petals and rotten fruit each have 3-tier deeds associated with them, and players can earn an easy 30 Turbine Points from attending several shows. Acting in a performance has similar rewards. Bad actors can earn bad-actor titles and good actors can earn good-actor titles. Additionally, attending a performance can earn 2 Frostbluff Coins every 10 hours or so.
The play centers around Bilbo Baggins' strange disappearance after his eleventy-first birthday party, as told from a hobbit's perspective. The hobbits hold Gandalf in suspicion for Bilbo's vanishing act, and he has become an unsavory character in their eyes. When you get randomly selected to go on stage, you will be assigned one of 3 parts: Bilbo, the Protagonist of the play; Partygoer, who is an Extra; or Gandalf, who is the Villain. Performing the correct emotes at the correct time will earn you a title based on the role you played. The emotes that are acceptable for the roles are varied:
When you take to the stage, you are given cues for when to
perform your emotes, and the NPCs will send you "tells" indicating
where they want you to stand. The sequence of characters is:
There are also rewards for performing the incorrect emotes. If you find the titles of these deeds appealing, they can be purchased with Festival Tokens from the concession vendor in the theatre.
Fans of the 2009 edition of the Yule Festival cosmetics will be happy to learn that the Snow-Dusted outfits are back. New this year are Yule Tunic and Pants, Yule Scarf , Yule Stocking Cap and 2 versions of the Yule Cloak: Hooded and Hoodless.
In addition to the holdover gag rewards from last year, the 2010 Yule Festival offers Perfect Snowballs and some other jokey stuff that's all manner of fun during kin meetings and other social events.
Once you fill your Honored Yule-friend deed meter up, you can follow another quest chain, siding either with the downtrodden beggars or the heartless ruling elite. The chain starts with the Town Crier and involves beating down some members of the other "team," who are mostly around level 10 and elites. Completing this short chain gives the character a complete winter ensemble - the "Shabby" set or the " Extravagant Festival" set. Both sets include 2 hats and gloves, and the choice between a robe (Extravagant Festival Set) or a tunic and leggings (Shabby set) and a dress.
Snow-dusted Traveler's Set.
Extravagant Festival set